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EPI Companies — On the Move

May 2007 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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FOR MOST printing companies, moving the entire business from one facility to another is a daunting task, particularly if the relocation is expected to be a seamless process logistically, without any interruption of business for the client base.

Now take that same process and change the parameters: Instead of one, it’s six plants being consolidated into two facilities, not one. And it’s business as usual from the vantage point of the customer base.

Welcome to the world of the EPI Companies.

This Marietta, GA-based firm pulled off this Herculean task between June 2006 and this past January, without skipping a business beat. It entailed relocating 116 machines, selling off or trading in about a dozen pieces of equipment, acquiring two new presses, installing more than 56 miles of copper wire, as well as transitioning 275 full-time employees into a new 267,000-square-foot headquarters and a 127,000-square-foot sister location in the northwest Georgia city of Chatsworth.

“Our customers knew we were moving, but didn’t feel that we were moving,” notes Bill Blair, COO of EPI Companies. “That was important to us, because we had to do the move while conducting normal business operations.”

In truth, the move resulted from EPI Companies being a victim of its own success, but victim is hardly the appropriate term. Founded in 1969, the former Executive Printing had billowed to its current level of $53.5 million in annual sales. According to CEO Bill Woods Jr., son of the founder, the company had gained optimal bang for its buck over the 15 years it had operated in its 32,000-square-foot headquarters.

Business Is Booming

As the company grew, the work spilled into additional buildings until EPI swelled into seven plants. Business was booming, but it was clear to Woods that something had to be done in order to make operations less unwieldy and more efficient.

“You wake up one day and realize you have full-time drivers who do nothing but courier things from one building to another. You have CSRs and salespeople in transit all day long, driving back and forth,” Woods notes. “I started doing the math and concluded, first of all, that we couldn’t continue to grow this way. Secondly, we couldn’t be very efficient. So we put a massive restructuring plan into place that moved us into two buildings we didn’t even occupy a year ago.”

EPI markets itself as a diversified marketing support services provider; the “printing” name was dropped in 2003, as Woods sought to reel in clients that wanted to reduce their number of vendors. The diversified service model is still print centric, according to Woods, but EPI’s inclusion of value-added capabilities—including mailing, fulfillment, warehousing, Web-based ordering, creative services and promotional products—allows the company to address more needs of the client. These complementary services, incidentally, have also driven more print-based action.
 

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